skip navigation
Richard Brooks

Richard Brooks

Up
Down

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (5)

Recent DVDs

Also Known As: Died: March 11, 1992
Born: May 18, 1912 Cause of Death: congestive heart failure
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: director, producer, novelist, screenwriter, radio commentator, radio narrator, journalist, sportswriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A pioneering figure in independent filmmaking, writer-director Richard Brooks applied his journalistic background to his feature film career, in which he explored the best and worst in human behavior in films like "The Blackboard Jungle" (1955), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), "The Professionals" (1966) and "In Cold Blood" (1967). Brooks moved from newspaper man and radio writer to penning scripts for noir films like "Brute Force" (1947) and "Key Largo" (1948), where he honed his talent for characters who operated on both sides of the law. After graduating to director in the 1950s, he earned an Oscar for writing "Elmer Gantry" (1960) and nominations for writing and directing "Blackboard," "Cat," and "The Professionals" before writing and directing his masterwork, the black-and-white docudrama "In Cold Blood" (1967). The film also served as the coda for his career, as Brooks would try and fail to meet its standard of quality for much of the next two decades. His best work, however, would stand the test of time, and ensure him a spot among the cinematic immortals.

A pioneering figure in independent filmmaking, writer-director Richard Brooks applied his journalistic background to his feature film career, in which he explored the best and worst in human behavior in films like "The Blackboard Jungle" (1955), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), "The Professionals" (1966) and "In Cold Blood" (1967). Brooks moved from newspaper man and radio writer to penning scripts for noir films like "Brute Force" (1947) and "Key Largo" (1948), where he honed his talent for characters who operated on both sides of the law. After graduating to director in the 1950s, he earned an Oscar for writing "Elmer Gantry" (1960) and nominations for writing and directing "Blackboard," "Cat," and "The Professionals" before writing and directing his masterwork, the black-and-white docudrama "In Cold Blood" (1967). The film also served as the coda for his career, as Brooks would try and fail to meet its standard of quality for much of the next two decades. His best work, however, would stand the test of time, and ensure him a spot among the cinematic immortals.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Fever Pitch (1985) Director
2.
  Wrong Is Right (1982) Director
3.
  Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977) Director
4.
  Bite the Bullet (1975) Director
5.
  $ (1971) Director
6.
  The Happy Ending (1969) Director
7.
  In Cold Blood (1967) Director
8.
  The Professionals (1966) Director
9.
  Lord Jim (1965) Director
10.
  Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) (Archival Footage)
3.
 Bacall On Bogart (1988)
4.
 50 Years of Action! (1986) Himself
6.
 Cary Grant: The Leading Man (1988) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
During the Depression traveled to Pittsburgh, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Texas earning a living by writing on space rates for local papers and doing odd jobs
1932:
Landed job as a sportwriter with the Phildelphia <i>Record</i>
:
Joined Atlanic City <i>Press Union</i>; moved to NYC and joined Radio WNEW where he edited four news broadcasts a day and wrote one
:
Appointed newswriter, commentator, and narrator for NBC radio until 1940
1940:
Founded theater company, "The Mill Pond Theatre" (with David Loew) in Roslyn, New York; made directing debut when the two took turns directing the plays they produced there during summer
:
Took trip to California in October and got job as writer for local radio station; wrote a short story every day and read it over the air; also wrote and directed the radio show "William Sands"
1942:
Feature film debut as additional dialogue writer, "Sin Town" and "Men of Texas"
1943:
Wrote first feature, "White Savage"
1943:
Returned to radio writing including parts for Orson Welles
1943:
Joined US Marine Corps.
1945:
Wrote first novel, "The Brick Foxhole", while in Marines
:
While in the Marines contributed to scripts of Anthony Mann's "My Best Gal" (1944) and Robert Siodmak's "Cobra Woman" (1945)
1946:
Signed with MGM
1947:
"The Brick Foxhole" filmed by Edward Dmytryk as "Crossfire"; screenwriter John Paxton changed novel's murder victim from a homosexual to a Jew
1950:
Directed first feature, "Crisis"
1965:
Became an independent producer with "Lord Jim"
1985:
Wrote and directed final film, "The Fever"
1977:
Mortgaged home to make "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Temple University: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -

Notes

"Called 'God's angry man' by fellow writer Fay Kanin, Brooks frequently made films exposing social and moral conditions he deplored, alternating these with weighty literary properties and the occasional romance or comedy. Peter O'Toole called him 'the man who lived at the top of his voice.'" --Todd McCarthy in Brooks' obituary in Variety. March 16, 1992.

Brooks has defended his alteration of literary works for his films: "The novel and the screen are very different story-telling media. Short of putting the book in front of a camera and filming the text direct, page for page, any novel must necessarily undergo critical changes. Indeed, one hallmark of a good novel is the fact that it cannot be made into a good picture without changes. And it is equally true that a novel filmed scene for scene will not be a good movie. Nor would a good film make a good novel if it were literally and painstakingly transformed to the written word." --quoted in "Hollywood Directors 1941-76", edited by Richard Koszarski (1977)

"One of the most common complaints is that screenwriters--or directors, or producers--oversimplify everything, especially motivation and the delineation of character. . . . It is difficult for authors who have never written for or made, or studied, pictures, to realize how precious screen time is, and how swiftly things can be gotten over to an audience that is looking at moving pictures." --Richard Brooks quoted in "Hollywood Directors 1941-76", edited by Richard Koszarski (1977)

"The most important thing in the whole script is structure. You can go to the stage and shoot a scene with the right structure whether you've got the best cameraman or not. But you can have the best cameraman in the world and if you have no structure you've got shit." --Richard Brooks in 1990, quoted in his obituary in The Hollywood Reporter March 12, 1992.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Harriett Levin. Married in 1945.
wife:
Jean Simmons. Actor. Born on January 31, 1929; previously married to Stewart Granger; married in 1960; directed her in "Elmer Gantry" and "The Happy Ending"; separated in 1977.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Kate Brooks. Born in 1961; mother, Jean Simmons.
step-daughter:
Tracy Granger. Jean Simmons' daughter by Stewart Granager.

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Brick Foxhole"
"The Boiling Point"
"The Producer"
"My Best Gal"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute